Thursday, March 13, 2014

Senator Leland Yee conditionally endorses e-initiatives

California Secretary of State candidate and incumbent State Senator Leland Yee has conditionally endorsed e-initiatives (online signature-gathering), citing their ability to “empower grassroots organizers and help protect the initiative process from being dominated by moneyed interests.”

In a statement issued today, the San Francisco/San Mateo County-based Democrat told Etopia News:

“First, I would need to have proof that signatures were collected honestly. Online Voter Registration checks signatures against DMV records, and I would want a similar assurance that individuals could not abuse the system by signing up people without their knowledge. But provided such a system could be proven safe, secure, and free of fraud, I would support the electronic gathering of signatures. This innovative use of technology could empower grassroots organizers and help protect the initiative process from being dominated by moneyed interests.”

Senator Yee is the second of the six candidates for Secretary of State to endorse, even conditionally, the concept of letting eligible California voters sign official initiative, referendum, recall, in lieu and nomination petitions online, using an extension and expansion of the existing Online Voter Registration system that uses properly- and securely-accessed digitized signatures from the DMV database to authenticate online voter registration forms, as advocated by the non-partisan Coalition for an E-Initiative.

Secretary of State candidate David Curtis, who’s been endorsed by the Green Party of California, endorsed e-initiatives in an Etopia News interview recorded on February 27, 2014, and viewable here.

Dan Schnur, a third (decline-to-state) candidate for this office, has said that if he is elected, he will “convene a discussion” of this reform.

Republican candidate for Secretary of State Pete Peterson has gone so far on this issue as to say he supports “exploring e-signatures in ballot initiatives.”

The two remaining Democratic candidates, California State Senator Alex Padilla, and former Common Cause vice president for state operations Derek Cressman, have not taken public positions on e-initiatives, although Senator Alex Padilla declined earlier this year to “carry” a bill implementing e-initiatives in the current session of the California State Legislature.